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Gender Bias – Alive and Kicking on the Internet

The very charming James from Men With Pens recently directed me towards Technorati’s recently released “State of the Blogosphere” report. This report has been issued yearly since 2004, and the stats and figures it puts out are interesting. The complete report is so large they spread it over six days (so glad I wasn’t the one writing it!).

They’ve also recently emailed out a link for people to complete a survey for “State of the Blogosphere 2009”. If you’re interested in completing it – and if you’ve got a blog then you should be – click here for the survey.

What really struck me about this years report is the obvious gender bias in blogland. Looking firstly at the Introduction and the ‘Segment Snapshot of Bloggers’ the bias is obvious.

Personal Bloggers = 64% male

Corporate Bloggers = 70% male

Professional Bloggers = 72% male

I’m not sure exactly how Technorati defines the difference between ‘Corporate’ and ‘Professional’ bloggers, since over 50% of all three categories say they are in full-time employment. There seems to be no distinction made between full-time employment blogging and full-time employment elsewhere.

Average time blogging = 35 – 38 months. (Three years, give or take a month or two) There’s no instant path to success here. Experience, and sheer tenacity, seems to be a factor in being a successful blogger. Ask any of the A-Listers and they’ll tell you this, there’s no surprise there.

Looking at the “Global Bloggers by Gender” chart, 83% of females and 76% of males have personal blogs, however when it comes to business only 38% of females have a business blog compared to 50% of males.

These figures show something I’ve suspected for awhile. The internet is a man’s world, baby!

Think about it. Name for me a single female A-List blogger. Dooce – maybe? Others – there are a lot of females who are well-known, but not classed as A-Listers. Gender bias is well and truly alive on the internet, and I have to say it irritates me no end.

Why is this? I mean, why is it a man’s world, not why does it irritate me. If you’re a female then I’m sure you know why it irritates me, and if you’re a guy and you don’t get it then you possibly shouldn’t ask.

Honestly, I don’t know. Females are as intelligent as males, we’re as well educated as the guys are. We’re as tech savvy as them. Yet, what we say has less authority. We attract less readers. People question what we say more than they do a guy’s writing. I guess we as a culture haven’t advanced as much past the days of the suffragettes and equal opportunity as we like to think we have.

But you know what? The ‘why?’ is less important than the ‘so what?’. What does this mean for me? What does this mean for my clients, my friends, my peers? What does this mean for your business?  The fact is that the internet is male-dominated, so how do we live with that, earn a good income and grow our businesses?

So tell me, what’s your opinion on this? Is it truly a man’s world? What chance does a female have of getting to the top of the blogosphere? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Melinda Jameson

Melinda is the founder of SuperWAHM.com and started this site to share her best work from home ideas to help other Work At Home Mums become more financially independent and able to spend time with their families.

11 thoughts on “Gender Bias – Alive and Kicking on the Internet

  • Oh hells bells, I think I might be biased too – in the opposite direction! Thinking about it honestly, I tend to trust women more. But I’m probably in the minority.

    @James I do see those stereotypes you propposed above quite a lot. Sometimes it seems that if a woman is doing anything other than ‘nurturing’, she’s suspect.

    @Melinda the kind of networking I was referring to is that very focused collaboration where a small group get together and push each other other’s websites forward in ways with high gain – and also collaboration where they actually join forces in the one website/business.

    Definitely women are heavily into networking and business forums (and being more social in general, do it better), but I don’t see the level of collaboration that male bloggers exhibit.

  • @ Barbara – I don’t know who you mean by Liz and Lorelle – and that suggests that they’re not A-Listers. A-Listers should be pretty much known by all bloggers, by name even if the person isn’t following them. Mention Brian Clark or Darren Rowse, and pretty much everyone has heard of them.

    @ Patsi, I think it is a man’s world, whether we like it or not. I’ll give you Pam Slim, she’s probably the closest female I can think of who comes close to being an A-Lister.

    @ James, yes, I’ve had discussions like that with some female writers. And the arguing….. oh yeah….

    @ Rosebelle, I think gender is always in the background even if we’re not aware of it.

    @ Friar, you may be right, however in this case all the figures came from bloggers. Everyone in the report is a blogger with their blog claimed on Technorati. What you say may be true in the wider community (world) however for these figures every single person is a blogger, so the gender bias is very clear. Unless you want to discuss that maybe guys fill in more surveys than women? 😉

    @ Alex, definately! I look around at the public service here and there are more women than men. Top levels – ovewhelmingly male.

    @ James, you’d get that too, yes? Single dad with two kids = you must be a hero. Single mum with two kids = normal life.

    @ Anni, nah, I think we women have it over the guys when it comes to networking! Look at how many women get together for coffee, form forums and discussion groups etc. Although ours tends to not be as business focussed as the guys. Maybe we need an ‘old girls’ network too!

    How do others view online content when it is written by a woman as opposed to a male?!

    Well, I recently read something that I thought was written by a guy and then I found out it was written by a woman. I’m embarrased to say that I found I was questioning what I’d read, whereas before I had simply accepted it as correct. Nothing had changed except that I had a tiny bit more information about the author.

    That was a huge surprise, as I would have said that I didn’t care if it was written by a guy or a woman. It’s something that I’m now a lot more aware of – the information doesn’t change because of who writes it.

    @ James (again), yes, definately! And then there’s you Quebecois people…

  • Another thought inspired by Anni’s comment is gender perception, such as:

    A man who is authoritative is a leader. A woman is pushy.
    A man who puts his foot down is firm and strong. A woman is being uncompromising.
    A man who forges ahead is admirable. A woman is uncaring of others.
    A man who uses other people to get ahead is savvy. A woman is a bitch.

    Not saying I believe those, just saying that’s an example of what people see based on gender. And, these things can affect success.
    .-= James Chartrand – Men with Pens´s last post…The Dragons of Writing and How to Fight Them =-.

  • What I think men do well is business networking. It’s been a long tradition – look at the ‘boys clubs’ that follow on in the business world from private boys schools.

    Many of the successful blogger guys understand that in order to establish themselves as experts, they need networking, an understanding of online tech, and leverage (as well as good content.)

    Doing well as a blogger can also involve interest in technology (running a website, seo, online tools, plugins etc) and women have been slower to take this up.
    When I was studying IT 10 years ago, I was of only about five women as against around forty guys. When I studied social work before that, the percentages were reversed.

    I don’t mind whether what I’m reading online is written by a man or a woman. But it’s a very interesting question – How do others view online content when it is written by a woman as opposed to a male?!
    .-= Anni Taylor´s last post…12 foot trampoline in a small yard =-.

  • @ Alex – I’m reading “Why She Buys” and one of the points the author brought up was that the wife of a CEO in an office had cancer and was going to die. They had two kids.

    The men would talk in the hallway. “What’s he going to do after he’s gone? Two kids, man! Who’ll take care of them?” It was a courageous act of honor that it seemed this CEO would carry on caring for the children alone.

    And the women in the office couldn’t help but think…

    They do this every day.
    .-= James Chartrand – Men with Pens´s last post…We Like Special Announcements. Here are Three. =-.

  • When I was doing my Masters in Information Studies my management professor told us that the Library industry was 90% women but 90% of the top spots were filled by men. For some stupid reason the world still seems to think that authority and the ability to lead is something only men can do.

    There’s no one complaining about this (or about the gender bias in favor of women in roles like nurses) because the world is hugely sexiest – a man taking a traditionally “female” role is seen as degrading himself (how many male nurse jokes are there?) but a woman taking a traditionally “male” role is asserting her power.
    .-= Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last post…No, I Won’t Talk to You: Why Someday Syndrome Offers Email-Based Coaching =-.

  • Maybe women, in general, tend to want to blog LESS than men.

    Not that this is necessarily right or wrong. That’s just the way it IS.

    And how is it when there’s a gender bias in favor of females (i.e. elementary school teachers) nobody ever complains?
    .-= Friar´s last post…A Single Person’s Open Letter of Apology to Parents =-.

  • Gender never came across my mind when I’m reading someone else’s opinion on their blogs or websites. It’s a matter of what was written and how it was written.

  • It was an interesting report.

    I know that in the writing world, women are paid less. They’re argued with more. Their rates are up for question. Their advice is often poo-poohed. They’re often condescended to if they take time off – must be the kids – or miss a deadline – kids again. There’s little respect, it’s hard to grow a business and you have to want it badly.

    Many, MANY female writers complain of this.

    And yet, my rates are never questioned. Very often, people think I charge more than I do. My advice and recommendations are taken seriously. If I take a day off, I’m told, “Good for you! You must work hard!” (I do – women do too, and women with kids more so.) If I say I have to miss a deadline, my clients asked sympathetically, “Wow. I hope it’s not that basement flooding again.” (No, it was a cold.) I’ve never lacked for respect (save an ass client or two), I’ve grown my business easily (just determination? Or something else at play?) and…

    Yeah. I want it bad.

    Just as bad as the women I know.

    It’s fine to sit there and say, “There are plenty of successful women.” There are. Are they outnumbered? Oooh yeah. Do they work harder to be successful? Oooh yeah. Can everyone just sit back and say, “I pretend it’s not there,” or “We just carry on and it’s fine?”

    No. Sorry, no. A head in the sand just gets you blocked ears and a mouthful of grit.
    .-= James Chartrand – Men with Pens´s last post…How to Add Spice to Your Content =-.

  • There are many powerful, creative and successful women on the ‘Net. For a-list bloggers, take a look at the women on Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop.com “Ego” blogs list: Pam Slim, Charlene Li, and Valeria Maltoni, among others. In fact, take a look at any of the topics on this blog aggregating site, Alltop, and you’ll find successful women bloggers. It’s more important to look at what the good ones are doing, (male or female), than to look at numbers. Quality counts, no doubt about it. What we write on the web counts, has authority, and gets read in large numbers. Do more women need to speak up and be counted? Sure, no doubt. It’s not a man’s world unless we believe that.
    .-= Patsi Krakoff´s last post…Linkbait Content: Here’s how it works for any niche =-.

  • It doesn’t bother me one teeny tiny wittle bit.

    Back when I was focused in Internet recruiting, I was THE top trainer in the industry, gender-be-darned. So it can be done, I’m living proof of it.

    That being said, you’re kinda sorta right about A-list bloggers EXCEPT…I’d put Lorelle and Liz and others in that category. What really DOES define an A-list blogger anyways? Do OTHER A-list bloggers have to decree, thou art accepted into our hallowed hallways?

    If so, that’s called The Big Dogs Network (ie, the closed network) and to be honest, I have zero desire to be there as well. Perhaps I’ll create my own Big Moose network for only women! 🙂 Did you know that in Squidoo, there’s a group called Rocket Moms that focuses ONLY on women in that niche?

    Life is what we make of it. And I’m going to make one heck of a lot, let me tell you. 🙂
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last post…Today’s Quote of the Day – Nothing is scary once you give… =-.

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